Monthly Archives: November 2013

Kids & Computer

I gifted a computer to my son on his 9th birthday and tried to guide him on what all he can do with it. After a few months, I made an interesting observation – he obviously loves playing games and he does that often, but he has also developed genuine interest in doing other stuff with computer because he finds it equally exciting as well. This helped me realise that if kids are encouraged and taught to use computers productively, they won’t be really using them only for thing s like gaming, social-networking and other things any parent won’t like them doing.

I thought this can help everybody having young kids or grand-kids at home so I am sharing a few tips from my experience here:

Learning to Type  – The first thing I told my son was that he should know how to properly type using all his fingers from both hands and not just use 2 fingers to type. I told him to visit –  www.typeonline.co.uk and take typing lessons there. It’s a free website and very useful for anybody who wants to learn proper typing sitting at home. So after a month he was able to type properly and you know what kept him interested in doing it – Speed Test. Website offers a speed test to know your typing speed and he loved to regularly test himself and do better everyday. He is doing 25 WPM right now which I think is a pretty good start.

DIY Projects – One day son asked me how he can learn juggling and I searched and showed him a video on Youtube which teaches juggling step-by-step. He tried doing that but lost interest after a few days. But he remembered how to use youtube after that. One day when I came home from office, he was making paper aeroplanes and other origami stuff watching their videos on Youtube. There are DIY (Do It Yourself) videos for practically everything on web and you can learn anything watching them. Recently I am trying to get him interested in a very good website dedicated to Kids DIY and it is called www.diy.org.

This site is a community for children where they can learn to make various things like cardboard birdhouses, soda bottle safety glasses, duct tape wallets and toothbrush robots that scurry across a desk like alien life-forms. All these projects allow children to earn virtual badges, which will appear on the site. Kid’s account is also linked with parent’s account so that you can monitor your kid’s activities on the website.

Learn Programming –  What I love about programming is that even kids can learn and do it effectively, that’s why we keep reading about so many 10-13 yr old programming wiz kids and now there are various websites which teach programming in very effective manner. My son learned HTML, CSS and basic website development on www.codecademy.com which is a free website and teaches you programming like a game. You have to progress through various stages and while doing so you earn points and badges to show off on your profile. Contrary to what many of you think, programming can actually be quite fun. Check out video on www.code.org to see why rock stars and athletes are learning to program these days. Check out this, this, this & this for more resources on teaching kids to program.

I hope you find these suggestions useful and practical with kids in your homes. Let me know what do you think in comments.

Google Moonshots

Immortality

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Photo by Jason Tester on Flickr under CC

Who won’t like to live forever? Although it looks impossible today, you have to take notice, when a company like Google starts pursuing something. Google has just formed an independent Biotech company called California Life Company (Calico for short), headed by Apple Inc and Genentech Chairman Art Levinson, to develop technologies to tackle health issues related to aging.

“While this is clearly a longer-term bet, we believe we can make good progress within reasonable timescales with the right goals and the right people,” says Google CEO Larry Page.

Driverless Cars

Google has been working on self-driving cars for 5 years now and their 3rd car model called GX3200 has been approved for commercial use in USA. Fully electric GX3200 can seat 4 passengers and can travel 750 miles on a single charge. It also has its own wifi for passengers. Global Taxi Company Uber, which just launched in Bangalore and Delhi, has already committed to purchase 2500 cars from Google.

Balloon Powered Internet for everyone

Official website for Project Loon says – “Many of us think of the Internet as a global community. But two-thirds of the world’s population does not yet have Internet access. Project Loon is a network of balloons traveling on the edge of space, designed to connect people in rural and remote areas, help fill coverage gaps, and bring people back online after disasters.”

Google Glass

Google Glass is a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display (OHMD) that is being developed by Google with a mission of producing a mass-market ubiquitous computer. Google Glass displays information in a smartphone-like hands-free format and can communicate with the Internet via natural language voice commands. Google Glass was made available to developers earlier this year and will be launched for general public next year.

List of moonshots Google is currently working on also includes Google Fibre, which is a 1000 Mbps Internet infrastructure and flying wind turbines to tap into airborne wind energy.

If you want to check out more similar Moonshot projects you can visit www.solveforx.com and give your inputs and discuss existing projects. You can also recommend a moonshot project of your own there.